*It was all about Team Robin on “Good Morning America” as the co-anchor prepares to undergo a bone marrow transplant today.
Robin Roberts, 51, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) earlier this year – a disease which attacks blood cells and bone. She’s spent the past 11 days in a New York hospital preparing for the procedure, undergoing eight days of intensive chemotherapy.
Roberts addressed her supporters in a video from her hospital bed. [Scroll down to watch.] Wearing a pink baseball cap and clutching a cold drink, she said: “This journey is as much about the mind as it is the body.”
“Thoughts. Thoughts are so powerful. You’ve got to change the way you think in order to change the way you feel,” she continued, and repeated: “You’ve got to change the way you think in order to change the way you feel.”
She also thanked fans for their love and support, adding: “And let me just say this lastly, I feel the love and I thank you for it. Thank you.”
In preparation for the transplant - her sister Sally-Ann Roberts, who is a perfect match, was the donor – Robin underwent extensive chemotherapy. First, she received the “good” chemo, which boosted her blood cells and marrow to get her ready for the next phase, explained Dr. Gail Roboz, who is helping Robin prepare her for her bone marrow transplant.
“We could see in watching Robin over the summer that she looked fantastic,” Roboz said. “She was having an easy time with it. That was really MDS-directed treatment. That was to mow the lawn, get rid of as many MDS cells as possible, boost the bone marrow and get ready for the transplant.”
After that, the chemo Robin received was very different. For three days last week, she had chemo every six hours for two and a half hours. On Tuesday, she underwent 18 hours of uninterrupted chemo, which decimated her marrow and immune system. For now, she has no resistance to infection.
“This type of therapy over the last week has been much more intensive,” Roboz said. “This isn’t just mowing the lawn and not getting rids of the weeds on top, it’s digging down deeper and really trying to empty out the bone marrow cells and get rid of the immune system cells so that the new ones from Sally-Ann can come on in.”
“Robin looks great,” she said. “She’s a powerhouse but she feels crummy. Her mouth hurts. She’s got a headache that won’t quit. Nothing tastes right. It’s hard to get up and even move around in the room. This is someone who’s used to 50 hours a day and an athlete with tremendous stamina. It’s powerful to hear her say that reading a few emails or sitting up in bed is a lot of work.”
The transplant itself will take between 30 and 60 minutes, and when it’s done, Robin will be kept in room designed to keep the air as clean as possible – but she will not be totally isolated. Medical staff, friends and family will be able to visit, Roboz noted.
Watch Robin’s video message below. Click here for the entire “GMA” segment on Robin Roberts that aired this morning (Sept. 20).